The power of photography’s role in our justice system is unquestionable, but has video sharing become so prolific that its message is getting lost? A recent run-in with the law by none other than a renowned civil rights attorney suggests otherwise.
On Wednesday, the Little Rock Police Department released a dash-mounted camera video of Rep. John Walker (D—Little Rock) filming a traffic stop which led to his eventual arrest as well as the arrest of his attorney, Omavi Shukur.
Walker, 79, is known for his key role in helping the state pass a law which protects people who are filming police. Ironically, he was arrested for the very act which he sought to protect.
Of the incident, Little Rock officer Jeff Thompson wrote in his report, “I ordered Walker several times to leave or be arrested. Walker replied ‘arrest me’ at which point I did.” According to the official write-up, Walker told the driver, “I’m just making sure they don’t kill you.”
The lawmaker was then arrested for “obstructing governmental operations,” according to a press release. Walker and Shukur have since been released, although Shukur was held in custody until Thursday.
The city of Little Rock apologized for Walker’s arrest, but he publicly rejected it in a letter on Thursday in which he cited unequivocal racism that led to the arrest in the first place. He also expressed displeasure that Shukur was still in custody.
Walker wrote, “...You must recognize the issue of racial bias that is pervasive in some quarters of the police department. It happens that the two officers who arrested us were white. The black officers did not speak to us and appeared to be taking orders....”
If Walker set out to prove a point that racial bias persists within Arkansas law enforcement, he certainly did just that.
Banner photo credit: ualpublicradio.org